Each summer since 2002, PCCM brings high school students from underrepresented backgrounds to Princeton to attend the Princeton University Materials Academy (PUMA), a three-week materials science and engineering program. The PUMA curriculum consists of inquiry-based, hands-on labs, and project-based learning, supported by lectures and interaction with PCCM faculty and graduate students. The students work with the faculty on current research projects; therefore the curriculum is different every year.
PUMA 2024: The materials science of HAIR !
Summer 2024, July 8 - 26.
Hair is a fascinating and complex material. Join us for a research-based project learning experience as we investigate the mechanics, structure and chemistry of hair.
PUMA 2022: Materials That Move & Play!
The 2022 PUMA summer program will be an in-person program focused on students’ STEAM and science communication. Projects are going to be based on materials science concepts learned from short presentations which will be conducted by Princeton University’s faculty and research community members. Designed to hone students’ skills and knowledge about how materials and material science are fueling innovation, students will leave an “imprint” on their community as they share media they produce. Participants in the PUMA program for Summer 2022 will have opportunities to explore materials from the perspective of play. Building on the way that materials move and respond under different conditions, students will conduct experiments that explore solutions and create their own versions of stretchy, bouncy, bubbly and sticky substances that are commonly used to reduce stress. The 2022 PUMA Projects include, Chemistry of Playdough, Chemistry of Silly Putty (non-Newtonian material, and Glow stick Chemistry, Kinetic sand and many other materials well be explored scientifically.
In sum, Students will learn about a diversity of scientists who engineered play and more interesting inventions that make life fun!
PUMA 2022 program Agendas:
PUMA 2022 Photos:
PUMA 2022: Final Project Presentations:
PUMA 2022 student's Website Links:
PUMA 2022 student's Technical Posters:
PUMA 2021: Communicating Materials Science to the Public
The 2021 PUMA summer program was virtual and focused on students’ STEAM and science communication. Projects were based on materials science concepts learned from short presentations conducted by Princeton University faculty and research community members. Designed to hone students’ skills and knowledge about how materials and material science are fueling innovation, students will leave an “imprint” on their community as they share media they produce. The PUMA PAWS program will present Public Audio Wonder Shorts (PAWS) as a way to share learning. Students spent 1-2 hours each day with program instructors. The rest of the day students worked independently on research and assignments. PUMA 2021 Agenda
The 2020 curriculum focused on sustainable materials and the importance of materials science in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). At the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in September 2015, 193 member nations adopted an agenda for the next 15 years, entitled "Transforming Our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The agenda included 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are a blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and planet. Materials science research and engineering is core to innovating the new technologies that will help transform our world to meet these goals. The development of efficient clean energy technology and infrastructure, the delivery of potable water through nanotechnology, and improving health outcomes through better medical devices and molecules are but a few examples of work that is being undertaken by materials scientists and engineers around the world to ensure an ecologically and economically sustainable future for all. PUMA 2020: news article / video resources
The 2019 program enrolled 15 students from Trenton, Hamilton and Princeton who learned about the history of materials used for information storage, from clay to computers. In addition to participating in coursework, independent projects and lab tours, the PUMA students met with undergraduate and graduate students for conversations about career paths in science and engineering. PUMA 2019 news article / video
Archived Press Coverage of the PUMA program
Archived PUMA Lesson Plans, available for PDF download